Classic Iron: Volvo Sommer Joker Beach Buggy

Back in the late 1960s, a Danish traveler named Ole Sommer made his way to Southern California and fell in love with beach culture. He loved the sand, the sun, the surfing, and– apparently!– the Myers Manx beach buggies he saw dotting the automotive landscape. Ole decided then and there to build his own summer fun machine: the Sommer Joker.

Based on a Volvo 140 series sedan, the Sommer Joker “buggies” used the front lighting and surrounds as the 140, as well as the 82 HP B20 Volvo engine. A simple leaf spring suspension was used in the rear in place of the original car’s coil spring setup, but the front suspension and steering is all Volvo. The simple, flat-panel bodywork that was somehow more boxy than even the boxiest of Volvos, though? That was 100% Sommer’s own design– er … let’s go with “brilliance”.

By far the wildest thing about the Sommer Joker wasn’t its look or its Swedish underpinnings– it was the fact that the car, somehow, sold for about the same price as the standard Volvo 140 it was based on. That’s a pretty neat trick!

Very few Sommer Jokers were built, with some numbers seeming to say there were only seven made. And all of them in yellow, too. Still, if you’ve ever stared longingly at a Danish half-timbered house and felt an inexplicable desire to drive it down a dirt road, there is really nothing better than a Sommer Joker to scratch that particular itch.

That’s my take on this particular classic Volvo. What’s yours? Would the chance to own a Sommer Joker have you cashing out your 401k, or is this another case of “everything valuable is rare, but not everything rare is valuable”? Scroll on down to the comments section and let us know.


1972 Volvo Sommer Joker

Sources | Images: TV2 Broom, via Curbside Classic.

I've been in and around the car industry for over twenty years. Sometimes racing, sometimes selling, sometimes fixing- sometimes, even just washing!- but Cars and Trucks and Things That Go are what I'm all about.